Sunday, October 10, 2010

Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra

Was asked before a performance:
"how come most of the musicians are foreigners?"
"Um,because most of our Malaysian musicians are in Australia and the States because there is hardly a job market here for them?"

Surely talent appreciation knows no distinction in nationality? We only wish.
That of course brings me to the newly mooted Talent Corp.

Talent Corp, in its bid to woo our best and brightest overseas to return home, has an uphill battle. Does this qualify as the understatement of the year?

With a political climate that sees the racial card being raised more times than the red card in La Liga, there'd be many in Malaysia who would volunteer to trade places. And if the situation is such that the PM has to reassure the Malaysian minority with a public statement that we are not 'pendatangs' or immigrants, a constitutional right that should be a given by now, I am not sure I feel very reassured. The politics of fear plied by the political parties and newspapers seem to make it an us against them battle. Real or Wayang - who is to say?

Political statements without the will and infrastructure to carry those through is commonplace. Looking through the frustrations vented out in forums just on the Malaysia My Second Home is a good indication as to the eventual fate of similar promises.

Expediting immigration processes for foreign spouses? When we still have so many local applicants waiting right into their golden years for their blue ICs? Its hard not to be cynical about it.

And is retaining brilliant home-grown talent anywhere in Talent Corp's KPIs? I would be really interested to learn the studies taken to understand why people are leaving in the first place. I wonder if it will ever be published because the truth can be too embarrassing.

Applying a basic principle of marketing - easier to retain a current customer than woo a new or disenchanted one, no?

But if as The Star puts it, that meritocracy be the foundation of establishing a truly global and competitive economy to make any attempt of wooing our talents home successful, then Talent Corp is doomed. Meritocracy is still a dirty word in this country. Its too politicized. Oddly, only by the politicians.

Anyway, I still love the MPO and music is still one of the very few pleasures that transcends space, time and communal politics. For now.

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